No One Can Make You Feel Inferior
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt
I've been doing a lot of quiet reflection lately about weight issues that are so common with women. In my youth, I always thought I was fat. Looking back at old pictures, I clearly wasn't.
I remember shortly after puberty these thought started going through my head. One morning I watching the Special K commercial whose jingle was "Can't pinch an inch on me". Suddenly, it occurred to me. Am I fat? I pinched my stomach and it was about an inch. Oh no! I'm fat! And thus began my cycle of 'dieting' and self esteem issues with weight.
The strange thing is, when I actually was obese, I didn't see myself as fat. I saw myself as "a little bit overweight", and "could stand to lose a few pounds", but I didn't see myself as OBESE. Which I was. At 160lbs, 44% body fat (estimated, I don't know for sure) and 5'0", I was solidly in the obese category.
It wasn't until I saw a picture of myself looking through a telescope that the truth was staring straight at me. It was not flattering. I have the picture posted in my photos as a reminder of the truth.
Still, somehow I denied it. I rationalized that it was just a bad photo, and pictures always make you look heavier than you are. It's almost comical to think about now. I think back on it in disbelief with myself.
I made lame attempts at 'dieting'. I restricted my calories so far that I was starving, then binged. I tried Atkins, Slim Fast, low carb, low fat - you name it. They all worked for a short time, then didn't. I blamed slow metabolism. It wasn't.
My best male friend lived in Seattle. I admit that I had a crush on him at various times in my life. I've known him for many years. He's very handsome, and incredibly smart. So when my relationship fell apart, I moved to Seattle, in part, to be closer to him.
Though I hadn't admitted my feelings for him, I could feel a crushing in my chest when he went on about how cute my best girlfriend was. He showed zero interest in me at all - except as friends, of course. He was dating this girl off/on who was super cute, but they really had nothing in common. He and I got on so well, and I was a much better fit for him than her. So why her? Why not me?
We can go on and on about how looks shouldn't matter. How shallow he was. Those things are true. When I realized it, I lost interest in him. (He's still one of my dearest friends, but I moved on and am engaged to someone else.)
I got punched in the soul with the truth when I started dating this one guy I met at my regular hangout. One night, he flat out told me, "Cathy, I think you're great. You're smart and fun to be with. But I'm just not attracted to you physically."
Wow. Talk about awful. I kicked him out of my apartment and cried so hard. I don't think I slept at all that night. I cried all night.
The thing was, I had already lost about 20 pounds at that point. I was no longer 'obese' but still overweight. I was feeling great about myself. I thought I was looking great.
Once I got through the tears and the shock at the brutal bluntness, I became angry. I *was* feeling great about myself. I *was* looking great.
He wasn't so hot himself. In truth, he was nerdy/geeky/dorky looking. I just thought he was a nice guy. Turned out he wasn't.
He was just some jerk whose opinion didn't matter. There's no taking the sting from something like that. However, I started on this journey to lose the weight for only one person - ME.
MY opinion is the only one that mattered. If someone said something nice, positive reinforcement is always encouraging. It gave me wind beneath my wings. If someone said something not so nice, it was irrelevant. It only lessened my opinion of them, but it did not stop me.
I learned what the saying "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" really meant.
I could have gone the other way. I could have taken these things as a reason to stay down the unhealthy path I was on. Why bother?
I didn't want to be obese. I didn't want to be out of breath walking up 10 stairs. I didn't want my knees and feet to hurt so bad when I walked for 10 minutes. I should always be loved for who I am, but it was not ok for me to be that UNHEALTHY.
There is absolutely no good reason for me to be obese. There is no medical benefit from being obese. I do not have medical issues or physical issues that prevent me from exercising and eating right. I am the only person responsible for what goes into my body.
Was it easy? Heck no (stronger language should be used here, but this blog is rated "G"). Of the top 5 hardest things I've ever had to do in my life, losing 30 lbs so I was no longer obese easily makes the list. (I'm now on the upper range of 'normal')
The only person who can make my goals happen is me. The only person who can stop my goals from happening is me. Any obstacles in the way are merely hurdles to jump over, push aside, crush with force of will, or pummel through.
I've conquered things I once thought 'impossible'. Losing 30 pounds, climbing mountains, diving in oceans, riding 25 miles on my bike in a single day - the list goes on and on. There is no such thing as impossible anymore. There is only, "I can't do this today, so how can I get where I want to be tomorrow/a week/a month/a year".
Saboteurs can get between me and my goal at their own risk. They can support me, or they can move aside. But they cannot stop me with words. Unkind words hurt, but they cannot make me feel inferior. Only I can give them that power, and I chose to give the power to myself.